I stumbled upon this op-ed from allkpop recently, and it was interesting to see the reactions to it from readers.
The writer of the article seems new to the K-pop world, and he’s basically just asking a question more than making an argument, so there’s no reason for me to critique it harshly or anything, but I do think there’s a rather obvious answer out there for him.
With the genre on a higher platform than ever, this month could be crucial to gaining new fans and supporters. Sharing music and performances that you enjoy and show the high quality of K-pop (regardless if you’re a fan of that actual act) will only help further strides for K-pop in your country and make it more likely for you to see your favorites in concert or on your local iTunes. There’s always going to be fights between fanbases of the artists, but it seems to make more sense that the pop fans of Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, and Beyonce fight each other when these artists have conquered almost every territory. K-pop artists always appear so civil and supportive of each other so why do the fans act differently with these infamous “fan wars”?
Perhaps there are deeper problems in the genre. As fans, we cannot deny feelings like certain groups were robbed of winning music programs. But is there also a reason to bicker over it? At allkpop, I see the readership as being in a very unique position to help break K-pop to Western countries, in particular America with the largest music business worldwide. I am inspired by the position allkpop finds itself in and am excited by the prospect of bringing some of my viewpoints on this platform.
For me, the answer is simple: International K-pop fans have no vested interest in promoting Korea’s economy and culture.
For all intents and purposes, the Hallyu Wave is a brand, and the interested parties in its success are the companies, people, and government of Korea. It makes complete sense, of course, because those are the people who stand to gain the most — through money or pride or recognition — should K-pop gain mainstream acceptance in the West. Everybody else? Not so much. Sure, there are the occasional Koreaboos who think they are Korean and worship everything Korean, much like there are weeaboos for Japan who think Japan is the best country on Earth or whatever. However, the majority of fans are just into K-pop, and more importantly, just into their favorite K-pop groups/idols, not the totality of what it’s supposed to represent.
Speaking for myself, I honestly don’t feel any vested interest in whether K-pop as a movement makes it in America, because at the end of the day, it’s still pop music. Even if it becomes the social norm in the West, it’s still embarrassing to admit you listen to it fervently as an adult. Even if K-pop dominates the Billboard charts in the United States, admitting I listen to BoA at the gym while doing power cleans still wouldn’t be the social norm, not any more than saying I listen to Carly Rae Jepsen‘s “Call Me Maybe” is now. I would get weird looks either way, so there’s no advantage in it from my point of view. Do I care what people think? No. Will it change anything? No. So again, what’s in it for me?
A selfish outlook? Sure, but humans are generally selfish creatures, and as international fans, what advantage would we derive from having K-pop succeed in America? If nothing, then you won’t see people banding together to promote every group that’s associated with K-pop just out of the kindness of their own hearts. Personally, I couldn’t care less, and if the prospect of K-pop conquering the West didn’t improve the reach and scope of their potential ad viewing audience, I don’t think international K-pop sites would either.
Perhaps K-pop fans, you feel different, but should we not pull together positively so that our favorites have the opportunity to tour Asia and beyond? If K-pop as a genre can make further strides, if one succeeds, this means all acts will be in a better position to break other countries. When I look at other great Op-Ed pieces on the site, for example about the lack of Asian males in Hollywood, I think we all on some fundamental level, feel the same and ultimately have the same goals for this music we enjoy so much.
No, no, no, no, nononononononono. I just think this lacks a general understanding of how fans everywhere work and why they do what they do.
Fan is short for fanatic, which implies a lack of logical or reasonable thinking.
What the author suggests is simply not how fans have ever operated and I see no reason that would change now. One could make the same argument in regards to K-pop for conquering Japan as well, and we have already seen how that has played out among the fandoms, right? Constant fighting about who outsold who, about which group has the most advertisements, and who wins the most utterly meaningless popularity polls.
As I said, there will always be those who will fight for the whole of K-pop, but will the great majority give a shit if their favorite group gets left behind in favor of their rivals? Fuck no, they’re not supporting groups they have dedicated their lives to hating just for the spirit of it. I would further a guess that if it’s between their most hated group succeeding in America or K-pop not making headway at all, most fans would rather they all fucking bomb just so that the rival fandoms wouldn’t have the upper-hand in the arguments to come.
And why do those fanwars have to happen? Again, fans LIKE the genre of K-pop, but are in LOVE with the idols and/or groups, not the Hallyu Wave brand itself.
Furthermore, it’s dubious at best to say that getting a group or two to become a hit will lead to further acceptance of Asians overseas.
We would all be better off to remember that this isn’t a political movement, and that it would be beneficial to stay away from comparing commercialization to social change. Using this economic venture as a rallying point for Asian American identity and equality is absurd. Sorry, but foreign robots from overseas aren’t going to change shit for Asians internationally. Hell, if anything, imports from China and Japan in the past have created the stereotypes that we have to deal with today, so I think anybody with hopes of a revolution along those lines is barking up the wrong tree.
Seriously though, stop attempting to say that Asian pop will make a difference for Asian Americans.
Anyway, that leads us back to the start of this post: “Why can’t all K-pop fans just get along?”
Because all of us putting aside our own personal likes and dislikes requires something with actual substance to rally behind. Unfortunately, at the end of the day, the Hallyu Wave is what it is. It’s an economic movement for a foreign country, it isn’t a social cause or a cultural shift, so why would we sacrifice our own personal feelings for it? So that companies, ones that many fans already resent for working their biases until they die, can get richer?
Yeah, I’m gonna take rain check on that, and it seems most others already have.